feeling hot, hot, hot — and like trying something new

This week at the monthly CSA pickup, Farmer Bill presented us with a couple of Scotch Bonnet peppers.  When I confessed that F. loves spicy food, he disappeared for a moment and came back with several more.  What a lovely, generous gesture… and a perfect illustration of why I adore developing a personal relationship with the man who grows our food.  Something feels restored to me in this exchange this summer, something that I think was lost for most of our society a few generations ago.

Problem:  I have no idea how to cook with Scotch Bonnets.

It might be all the lovely influence of Christina over at Soul Aperture, who occasionally references her Jamaican heritage to stunning, heart-stirring effect.  But after some research, I decided these hot peppers are to become part of authentic Jamaican Jerk Chicken.  I actually learned something about Jamaican cuisine while researching.  For the authentic taste, one uses the Scotch Bonnet.  If you cannot find them, you can substitute the habañero.

See, this kind of expanding your horizons stuff has been a part of the challenge of eating locally from the very beginning, when I first received a bag of amaranth.  Plus, F.’s been urging (coaxing? coercing?) me to experience new-to-me foods since we began dating.  At first, it was a little off-putting.  I guess even though I like to cook, I’d grown pretty comfortable with the same repetitive repertoire of recipes.  But over the summer, I’ve lost some of my fear.  It even became exciting to keep trying something new.

Somehow a new taste can rejuvenate you — and that’s even if it’s not hot, hot, hot.

(But I still won’t try head cheese ever again, so don’t even think about it, honey.)

Jamaican Jerk chicken looks fairly easy, especially since F. will be the one firing up the grill.  I have a feeling all our mouths are going to be on fire, too.  The real thing will probably put the pale restaurant imitations to shame.

When was the last time you stepped out of your comfort zone in the kitchen?

(Oh.  This is Orange, obviously.  I thought it showed to good effect against the robin’s egg blue bowl.  That’s actually my favorite color combination, turquoise and tangerine.  A good one to finish the “O” in the final R-O-Y-G-B-I-V for Capturing Beauty‘s ongoing photo challenge.)

4 Responses to “feeling hot, hot, hot — and like trying something new”

  1. I love the thought of getting a CSA box – it just doesn’t always seem practical for me since I am single. There has been talk of splitting it with someone else – but I just haven’t done it yet. I love cooking with seasonal vegetables though.

    Comfort zone. During a five-month period of unemployment two years ago, I had to give up all the take-outs and dining out and cook for myself. That in and of itself was challenging. Finding assorted things that I wanted to eat and not get tired of was kind of stepping out of my comfort zone. I ended up eating vegetarian meals mostly. I kind of miss that. 🙂

  2. as soon as this photo popped up, i squealed with excitement! yes, yes! jerk chicken will welcome these bonnets. also poke a hole in them, tie a string to it’s stem and add it to your pots of soup and beans. red beans and rice. pull the string to get pepper out easily. sometimes the peppers can run extremely hot, so be careful. add them to olive oils and vinegars too. oh, how i could go on. : ) squealing!

  3. The peppers look beautiful.

    I commend you for stepping outside of your comfort zone in the kitchen. We become such creatures of habit and sometimes it makes life easy, but it’s amazing how you can dazzle your taste buds with the unfamiliar.

    The jerk chicken sounds scrumptious!

  4. If you really want to get psyched, pair this up with the “Paprika” cartoon: http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0851578/
    (I dare not even think of a pitcher of gazpacho as coolant)

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